One of the places in the world in which the Blessed Sacrament is kept at the highest elevation is the chapel on the 33rd floor of the Torre Espacio building in Madrid, 135 metres above ground level. But Michael Scott Hopkins, coronel in the U.S. Air Force and NASA astronaut, has taken the Sacred Species to much greater “heights”: 400km from our planet.
Selected in 2013 for a 24-week mission on the International Space Station, he did not want to be without Holy Communion during that time. With the help of his pastor, Fr. James H. Kuczynski, he arranged to be appointed an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, with authorization to carry six consecrated hosts in a pyx, each divided into four fragments, so that he could receive the Eucharist weekly while he was in space. On Sundays, Coronel Hopkins transformed the Space Station Cupola into a “chapel” where, after reading the Liturgy of the Word, he received the Sacramental Jesus. He also set aside time for prayer during the week, even using his pastor’s homilies, sent to him by e-mail.
One of his Communions was not on Sunday, but on a day in which he had to complete a spacewalk outside the Space Station. He made a point of receiving Communion before exiting, explaining that “those events can be stressful. Knowing that Jesus was with me when I stepped out the door into the vacuum of space was important to me.” He added: “My crewmates knew I had the Eucharist with me. They respected my Faith.” About the amazing view from the Space Station, he said: “When you see the Earth from that vantage point and see all the natural beauty that exists, it’s hard not to sit there and realize there has to be a higher power that has made this.” (Taken from Heralds of the Gospel Magazine - August 2016)